What are Well Baby Visits and Why They're Important

Breaking down the importance of well-baby visits, what to expect, and how to prepare.

What are Well Baby Visits and Why They're Important

Congratulations! Your baby has finally arrived and hopefully you are getting to know each other, starting sleep training and managing all of the changes that come with new parenthood.

Among the many things that you now need to be sure to fit into your schedule will be your baby’s well-check visits, or well-baby visits. Grab a cup of coffee or tea and let’s discuss exactly what are well baby visits, why these visits are important, how to prepare and what to expect.

Finding a Pediatrician

Hopefully you have found a pediatrician or pediatric care provider you are comfortable with and/or that accepts your insurance. If you haven't, lean on the hospital where you are delivering your baby/delivered your baby for guidance. Don't forget to ask your friends with kids for pediatrician suggestions as well!

Most importantly, as a nurse, I’m a strong advocate to ask any questions and don’t hesitate to speak up with questions or concerns. Your pediatrician is a critical part of the team that will help to support you and your baby.

Timing of Well-Baby Visits

Your pediatrician’s office will advise you of the times they like to see babies for well-visits, but often the suggested schedule will be something similar to this:

  • within 3-5 days after birth and discharge home
  • 2 weeks of age
  • 1 month
  • 2 months
  • 4 months
  • 6 months
  • 9 months
  • 12 months.
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Some pediatricians schedule a little differently, but yours will tell you what they prefer, and what they find works best. Of course, if there you have concerns and want to be seen more closely, you should feel free to discuss that with your office. It’s always better to err on the side of caution, especially to help you worry less.

Related: Ultimate Guide to Safe Sleeping Practices for Baby

What are Well Baby Visits

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends well-child visits “as a way for pediatricians and parents to serve the needs of children. This team approach helps develop optimal physical, mental, and social health of a child.” The early weeks, months, and years of a child’s life are critical periods of time in their development, and there are so many changes that happen early and quickly in your child’s life. Having regular visits with your pediatric care provider allows you to hopefully develop a strong and trusting relationship, and thereby allows for the identification and prevention of any potential issues that might affect your child’s overall health.

How Long Will a Well Baby Visit Last?

In many offices, the amount of time set aside for these well-baby visits is actually more than the time set aside for sick visits. There’s often more to be discussed in these well-check visits, and the expectation is there may be more questions.

In addition to the time spent with the pediatrician, it's important to take into account travel time to and from the doctor's office, as well as the time you will inevitably spend waiting to be seen by the doctor. It's safe to say you should set aside at least an hour for these visits (from arrival to departure).

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What to Expect During Well-Baby Visits

There are four things you can expect will happen during each well baby visit:

  1. Your care provider will check your baby’s growth and development.
  2. They will measure weight, length, and head circumference to ensure proper growth, and they will examine your baby in a head-to-toe physical exam.
  3. In addition to your baby’s physical growth, your pediatrician will assess your baby, watching for things like eye contact, gross and fine motor movements and development, social interaction, etc.
  4. Your pediatrician will want to know about your baby’s eating and sleeping patterns, as well as how often they’re wetting and soiling diapers.

Well Baby Vaccinations

Well-baby visits are also the time that most pediatricians will recommend your baby get their suggested vaccinations. Vaccinations are intended to prevent serious childhood diseases. This can be a very sensitive and personal issue for some, so if there are any concerns regarding vaccinations, your pediatrician is the person to have that conversation with.

Related: Tips for bathing your newborn baby

Well Baby Questions

Lastly, your well-baby visits should include time for questions and discussion. It’s a good idea to keep a list somewhere – on your phone, on a notepad in the diaper bag, of any questions or concerns you have so that you can be sure to ask the pediatrician while you’re at the appointment. Try to schedule these well-baby visits at a time of day that disrupts your baby’s schedule as little as possible – if that’s even possible.

As always, make sure you have a stocked diaper bag with you at these appointments – you never know when that next diaper blowout may happen, so it’s always best to be prepared! In my upcoming articles, I’m going to break down for you exactly what to expect in each of your upcoming well-baby visits, so that you can be prepared ahead of time for each one. Here’s to healthy, and happy babies!

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Disclosure: This post provides content and discussion related to health, wellness, and related subjects. The words and other content provided in this blog including links should not be considered medical advice and should not be construed as such. Any health/wellness information should not be considered an alternative or replacement for information given to you by a licensed physician. If the reader or any other person has a medical concern, he or she should consult with a licensed physician.

More Well-Baby Visit Articles

Linda Scruggs RN, BSN serves as a resource for parents in the digital space, creating helpful health and wellness content. She has specialized for over 12 years in reproductive medicine, and family and women's health as a nurse. A mom of two young children, her work can be seen on her own blog via her site, lindascruggs.com, as a contributor to The Huffington Post, and created the patient education program in one of the top fertility centers in the country. Linda is all about empowerment in motherhood and would love to connect on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook, as @UnboxedMom

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